Study Guide

Inkheart

By Cornelia Funke

Inkheart Introduction

Yo, dawg. We heard you liked books. So we put some books in a book so you can read while you read.

That's kinda what Inkheart is like. It's a story about people who make stories—the people who write them, who bind them into books, and who live them. It's also about a girl named Meggie and her dad Mo who are totes in love with books, though Mo—weirdly—never reads out loud to Meggie. Never, ever. When a stranger shows up on their doorstep, Meggie (who's twelve) learns why: her father's voice can bring characters out of books… and send people from our world into them. As you might imagine, this means that an adventure, and plenty of trouble, awaits Meggie.

If we say that Inkheart is popular, that might be a teeny understatement. It's received heaps of recognition, including: ALA Notable Children's Book of 2004, Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book, New York Times Bestseller, USA Today Bestseller, and Kirkus Reviews Editor's Choice. In other words, Inkheart isn't just popular—it's adored by all sorts of folks.

Inkheart's author, Cornelia Funke, was an illustrator before she began writing books (and boy, are we glad she got started as an author). She published in her native German until a young girl brought her work to the attention of a British publisher (thanks, kid), and beginning with her novel The Thief Lord, Funke's books took off and became super popular. While she primarily writes for young adults and kids, don't make the mistake of thinking that her work is simplistic—there's something for everyone in her stories, and Inkheart is a prime example of this.

So believe us when we say that this book has some good stuff in it. Plus it's a book about books, and who can resist that?

What is Inkheart About and Why Should I Care?

We all know there's evil in the world. Examples include:

  • Genocide
  • Cutting down the rainforest
  • Kicking puppies

But how often do we, personally, as individuals, face evil? Probably not all that often. Inkheart shows us some astoundingly cruel behavior, and then it shows us how one brave (and stubborn) girl, Meggie, overcomes her fears and uncertainties and goes up against some really evil dudes.

We see Meggie getting captured, cornered, hit in the face, held at knifepoint, threatened, and emotionally blackmailed. Yikes, right? The people doing this stuff to her, Capricorn and his men, are clearly truly bad people. And yet Meggie doesn't back down or give up—nope, she keeps fighting. She fights because it's the right thing to do, and because she has a shot at saving lives (her own, as well as those of her family and friends).

We can all learn a lot from Meggie's determination, as well as the fact that she stands up to some pretty evil people who are hell-bent on getting what they want, no matter who they have to hurt in the process. When's the last time you stood up for what was right? Or took control of your own life? Or outsmarted an evil tyrant? Wouldn't it be really cool to say that you've done any of those things? Though for your sake, of course, we hope you never have to say that you outsmarted an evil tyrant. It's best to leave those quests for books… like this one.

Inkheart Resources

Websites

Cornelia Funke's Writing House
It's a pretty cool-looking website, but it's not necessarily the easiest site to navigate, so, er, have fun?

Scholastic's Inkheart page
There are some neat features here, but beware—there's an audio feature that starts up immediately when you open the page. It's cool to hear the book being read aloud, but it can be startling if you're not expecting it.

Movie or TV Productions

Inkheart the Movie
This 2008 adaptation, starring Brendan Fraser as Meggie's dad, has made some interesting changes to the book. But they've cast Helen Mirren as Elinor, so how bad can it be?

Articles and Interviews

Dianna Wynne Jones's Review of Inkheart
What do you get when one award-winning young adult novelist reviews another award-winning young adult novelist's book? A dang interesting review, that's for sure.

Scholastic's Interview with Cornelia Funke
You want to get to know the author of Inkheart? Look no further—she talks a ton about her life and her writing process in these interviews. Fast fact: She used to want to be an astronaut.

Another Interview with Funke
This one touches on how she feels about adaptations of her work, her favorite characters, and the sequels to Inkheart.

Video

Inkheart the Movie
This is just the trailer, and it's only a minute and a half long, but already you get a sense of some of the changes made in the movie.

A Longer Inkheart Movie Trailer
According to this trailer, Dustfinger has magic? Hmm…

Video Interview with Cornelia Funke
She discusses her writing process, some of the characters, and what it's like to live in Beverly Hills (spoiler alert: it ain't bad).

Audio

Margot Adler Interviews Funke for NPR
This is less about Inkheart and more about her novel The Thief Lord, but you get the idea.

Images

Cornelia Funke in her Writing Office
Nice stained glass window.

The Movie Poster for Inkheart
Nifty… though there are no unicorns in the book.

One of the U.S. Covers for Inkheart
Remember the lizard? It came out of Treasure Island when Mo had to read treasure out of it.

A Fan Cover for Inkheart
This is pretty trippy, and it might even be cooler than the original.